My Safe Place
My Safe Place
DEC 6 2020 | 5 MINS
Written By Brandie Janay Sanders
Where is your safe place? It’s a question that is asked very often in therapy. Where do you feel the safest? When you are little your safe place can often be found in material things: a blanket, a stuffed animal, or anything that made you feel comfort in times of distress. Somewhere along the way to adulthood, I stopped learning a safe place is not material or physical. We move from our favorite stuffed animal and tend to look for people to create a safe space for us. I wanted for a long time for my partner to create a safety net for me. A place for me to be free of worry and anxiety and judgment. A place of vulnerability and trust. In a world where we are so obsessed with being busy, with noise, with the hustle and bustle of life knowing how to feel safe was an important lesson for me. As an introvert, it was important for me to feel grounded and calm in a world where chaos is often praised as normality. I realized that I didn’t know how to feel safe on my own, and I had no item to grab to calm my anxiety or a place where I could find peace of mind. The idea of a safe place became a myth to me, but I had no idea what it was like to have a place so nourishing and additive that even just thinking about could provide relief to my soul.
One day I decided to take my dog for a walk in my neighborhood park. We walked to the park and I found a bridge where I sat for a few moments. I could hear the small waves, I could see the peaked sunlight and I could feel the hardness of the wooden bridge. For a split second, my to-do list was not on my mind. For the moment, my mind was at ease and my anxiety had subsided. At that moment I felt incredibly safe, in such an unfamiliar place I felt safe in the calmness of nature. It was at this moment I began to ask myself… what do I need to bring this type of peace more often? For the first time in a long time, I felt comfortable just being alone. My ideas and thoughts about safety but rooted in the unknown. The same things that I thought I needed to feel safe often were the same things that caused me the most distress. The thing with people is, they change. The unknown in the human relationship is the most uneasy feeling.
The thing about trauma is that it overpowers you, starting with your mind and your way of thinking. Relaxation can be very difficult when your mind is rarely ever at ease. You can’t calm down, you can’t feel safe and you can’t relax when you’re not aware that your defensiveness is your body’s innate reaction to trauma. In turn, your guard is always up. You might mistake genuine people for having malicious intentions when historically that’s what others have shown you. The biggest lesson I came to realize is that my dealings with toxic people created a toxic person in me. My inability to trust to decipher genuine people or feel safe in the comfort of my own home caused me to connect with people for my own selfish reasons and also disconnect from people based on my own faulty perceptions. Too often people use others to distract themselves from the problems in their own world. My use of a safe place was my distraction, my trauma response, and one of my maladaptive methods of coping with trauma (one of many to be discussed in this series). I vowed to never play games with other people’s hearts just to cover up my own loneliness.
To feel content and at peace with self is a journey we often forget is important. If you never learn to be okay with who you are, you can never find safety. It is easy to focus on the bad and what brings us discomfort, but learning to feel safe despite those things takes work and is an important part of recovery. Where’s your safe place? If you haven’t got one, what plans can you put in place to begin to find one?